Monday, May 24, 2010

Seven is heaven

We just finished Adam and Royce’s birthday celebrations and are attempting to catch our breath. For reasons that I now forget we held two separate but equal parties this year. Double birthdays and double parties are big excitement. A unicorn party for Royce and a Lego party for Adam. It was all good fun with pinning the horn on the unicorn and contests to build the tallest Lego tower but I am already re-thinking next year. We have a lot of leftover cake at this apartment.

Our parties this year were held on Friday May 21, which was a public holiday here, celebrating Buddha’s birthday. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month. Queen Maha Maya is suppose to have given birth to her son under a tree in Nepal near the border with India. People celebrate this holiday by bathing Buddha, particularly with perfume water. Many temples in Hong Kong held ceremonies, including the large outside Buddha statue on Lantau Island. While we did not make it to observe any celebrations this year, we were blessed the weather was fine for the twins and Buddha’s birthdays this year.

At school, the first grade has a system for celebrating children’s birthdays which involves baking a cake from scratch with selected students. While it all sounds lovely, it is a bit complicated with two cakes/ one oven and a cello concert with our older daughter ongoing at the same time. First grade teachers rose to the occasion and helped me get those cakes baked and decorated in time to watch the strings concert too. As I was working with two classes in the same kitchen, many students expressed wonder that Adam and Royce had the same birthday. Many forgot they were twins or never really understood it in the first place.

What I enjoyed more than the baking with the students was the birthday book that each class makes for the birthday student. Basically, each student writes what they think is important about the birthday child. The entries are so sweet and straight forward. Everything from “ You are good at four square” to “You are an imaginative person with fabulous ideas.” All the comments in both the books truly captured the kids as they are right now; active in sports and loving their friends and school. Both Adam and Royce wanted to sign their siblings’ birthday books. They are still very close and that is important to me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The May Meet: Year Two

We are now almost done with another year of school and of course another year of swimming. Tori’s swim team concludes its season with its May Meet, a large international meet that our team hosts every year. We just finished the May Meet and it went smoothly with high participant numbers. With these regional meets, one never knows what events will impact the swim meet. Last year, we had an outbreak of swine flu that kept many swimmers away. This year our team declined to travel to the March Bangkok meet due to political unrest in that country. But our meet escaped medical and political events this year and only coincided with American Mother’s Day which had some mothers grousing but some (okay, one) secretly pleased to spend the entire day watching her kids swim.

Tori had a great meet this year, bettering all of her times. She begged me to let her do an early morning warm up with the team at a different pool and then bus back to our regular pool. Last year this all seemed too confusing. This year not only could Tori handle the logistics but she wanted to swim a warm up! I was working most of the meet and not able to get her to her events. She handled all that fine. In her final stroke of grown up swim meet behavior, she picked out a new suit (hot pink and glittery) and wore that for her final races instead of her team suit. This is something older kids do; wear a faster more personal suit instead of the team suit.

For added fun, the twins were entered in the meet this year. While they are not official team members, they spend a lot of time at the pool. They often swim in Tori’s team practice meets. Most parents think the twins are much older than they actually are and that they are on the team. (Tori’s team is for slightly older kids). Adam and Royce do little to dissuade people of this notion. Adam wears his team swim shirt at all times. They did great on all their races. The twins also got into swimming fashion, wearing caps and goggles by the end of the meet. Adam even put on a pair of jammers with flames on the side.

Adam and Royce, the youngest at the meet, were assigned “buddies,” who happened to be the oldest kids on the team. Both were thrilled by all the attention. Adam’s buddy had a goatee beard. Royce’s buddy was a lovely girl, close to six feet tall and the fastest girl on the team. I overheard Adam and Royce discussing who was faster; Royce’s buddy or Michael Phelps. While it was just the May Meet to most, to our three kids this swim meet was practically the Olympics.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Inspiration Lake

On the first sunny and warm day of the season, we all decided an outing was in order. So we packed up the kids’ bikes and helmets into our smallish minivan, taking out the kids car seats in order to fit everything in, and drove an hour to Inspiration Lake. Inspiration Lake is one of the closest sites to us where the kids can ride their bikes. It is a bit crazed to go so far for a little bike riding but we were, well, inspired.

Inspiration Lake is an artificial lake with grass and a bike path. The lake is right next to Hong Kong Disneyland and was clearly built at the same time; similar signage, nice bathrooms and a 7-Eleven to sell whatever one needs. Inspiration Lake is definitely a manufactured experience but after the chaotic craziness of real Hong Kong, not entirely unwelcomed.

When we first arrived, we were told the parking lot was full. Parking is a huge issue in Hong Kong, so we readily accepted this reality and made plans for Phil drop us and the bikes, for him to drive to Disneyland and park and return. In the time it took for us to plan this, the parking attendant waved us in. A spot had opened up. We drove in and were surprised to see that the entire parking lot had about twenty spaces- and multiple cars were leaving. The Disneyland parking lot is equally funny. There the lot is huge, almost Disneyland USA size but with about twenty cars parked in it at any given time.

We had a nice afternoon there. It was all very pleasant, very city park like. We listened to frogs and then hunted for them. The kids played in a water sprinkler and cooled off. The kids rode around the lake and we walked. On the far side of the lake, we came upon a large party, with music and dancing. The kids parked their bikes and snuck up on the party. They all came running back to us, telling tales of the party goers dancing with lai see notes in their hands. Tori told us that the party goers smiled and pointed at them, calling them “xiao haidzi,” which means little children. We were pleased the remarks about the wild Western behavior were so innocuous and that the remarks were understood by the little children themselves.